Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who was Fernando Pereira?

Who was Fernando Pereira?

I didn't know the name (doesn't mean community members don't) and while looking for an article from The New Zealand Herald that Micah e-mailed about for our "what's being reported outside the U.S.?" Sunday series, I found Theresa Garner's "French agents 'were murderers', says daughter."

Fernando Pereira was killed in 1985 by French agents, the story tells us. The two agents ("Saboteurs Dominique Prieur (left) and Alain Mafart"?) pled guilty to manslaughter and were "sentence to 10 years in jail" but were in two. The two aren't identified in the story (the names in the parenthetical come from the captions to the photos). Pereira's daughter Marelle feels the two got off easy because they copped a plea of manslaughter and she feels her father was murdered.

How was he murdered?

The story doesn't tell you. (This is probably due to the fact that it was and is a big story in New Zealand and everyone may be aware of the details. And again, community members may be familiar with the name, but I'm not.)

So we go to Greenpeace for "Death of a crew member:"

Fernando Pereira was a Dutch photographer, originally from Portugal. He drowned on 10 July 1985, when two explosions ripped through the hull of the Rainbow Warrior. The rest of the crew managed to flee to safety.
Pereira had just celebrated his 35th birthday in Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands with the crew of the Rainbow Warrior. He was planning to go to Moruroa to bring photographs of French nuclear testing to the world. Tragically, his peaceful intention became the cause of his death.
A New Zealand court found two members of the
French secret service guilty of manslaughter. Although they were sentenced to 10 years in jail, both were free within two years. One was smuggled out of Tahiti under a false identity.

Is this the same Fernando Pereira?

Yes, it is. Greenpeace International has "The crew then and now" which, among other things, features a photo of Fernando Pereira with his daughter Marelle. From the article:

Martini Gotje called around 2 or 3 in the morning, recalls Bunny [McDiarmid] "and he told us the boat had been sunk and that Fernando had been killed. It was just complete and utter disbelief and shock, trying to absorb the fact that Fernando had died. It was unbelievable to think that this ship and Fernando had just disappeared, just like that."
"I think they [The French] completely misunderstood why Greenpeace was successful," adds Bunny, who now heads part of the organisations international campaign to protect the oceans. "I don't think they had any idea why Greenpeace at that stage attracted people or why we were successful at what we were doing, if they thought that kind of action would stop it.""I think the Rainbow Warrior belongs to more than Greenpeace. The Warrior became part of New Zealand's history. New Zealanders own the Warrior, not just Greenpeace anymore. In a lot of the struggles in the Pacific around nuclear issues the Warrior was seen as a symbol and she will continue to be that; any time she's talked about in this part of the world people remember her as part of the nuclear free campaigns."The bombing was an affirmation that what I was doing might actually be amounting to something," remembers Captain Peter Willcox, who will again be skipper on 10 July this year when the Rainbow Warrior pays tribute to her fallen comrade, laid to rest in New Zealand's Matauri Bay. Willcox and fellow crewmember, deck hand Grace O'Sullivan, returned to Mururoa to protest against French nuclear tests within months of the bombing, on board the Greenpeace yacht Vega. They were arrested and deported.
[. . .]
Sawyer remains sanguine about what it meant for the French. "As my French colleagues remind me from time to time, as a domestic political exercise, other than the scandal involved, and even considering the scandal involved, the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was quite a successful thing for the French government."
"Greenpeace was eradicated in France; we had to close down the office about a year after the bombing and the two spies returned home as heroes. There was an international price to pay for France, yes. For the rest of the world it was a very positive thing in terms of getting the issue of nuclear testing much higher up the political agenda and that was the main thing that we wanted to capitalise on but we didn't win any friends or influence people in France."

From the BBC's "On This Day" series, "1985: Rainbow warrior plea controversy:"

Two French secret service agents have dramatically changed their pleas on charges relating to the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.
A Greenpeace photographer, Fernando Pereira, died in the attack which sunk the vessel - the flagship of environmental group Greenpace - last July.
Today in the High Court in Auckland, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur pleaded guilty to arson and manslaughter.
At an earlier hearing the agents had pleaded not guilty to charges of arson, conspiring to commit arson and murder.

In the "In Context" sidebar to the BBC article, this is noted:

It was widely believed the two captured French agents were part of a larger team and had played only minor roles in the bombing but nobody else was ever tried for the offences.

Which brings us back to The New Zealand Herald article we started with. Marelle Pereira waas appearing "TVNZ's Sunday programme, [where] Ms Pereira said she was unhappy that the agents were charged with manslaughter when her father had been 'murdered' . . ." From the article:

The Sunday programme also said a third agent had admitted his involvement in "Operation Satanic". Louis Dallias, who lives in Washington DC, said he regretted that someone had died but that he was following orders.

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